This story was originally published in the September 25, 1995, issue of the Boston Phoenix.
In our unabashedly subjective Top 10 list of the most memorable Boston Red Sox playoff games, rankings were determined by a) historical significance; b) quality of play; c) how memorable the game was; and d) a complicated statistical system (diving the scores of each game by Babe Ruth's weight, then multiplying by 13). Please proceed with caution: there they are, ranked from the 10th-most-memorable to the most memorable.
10. GAME 8, 1912 WORLD SERIES, BOSTON AND NEW YORK (GIANTS)
Would you believe that — once upon a time — a Red Sox team fell behind 2-1 in the 10th inning of the final game of a World Series and won? See. They're not jinxed! That's just a grand media creation.
Granted, it happened 83 years ago, but it still happened, and that should count for something. The comeback capped off a World Series that's regarded as one of the finest ever. You had the villainous Giants, led by crusty manager John McGraw; you had the lovable Red Sox, led by the remarkable pitching of Smokey Joe Wood (34-5 during the regular season); and you had the "My city's better than your city" Boston/New York thing. This series was so good that it took eight games to play. Game 2 was postponed after 11 innings because of darkness, and Boston squandered chances to clinch the title in Games 6 and 7.
With the Series tied at 3-3-1, Boston rookie Hugh Bedient battled future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson in the climactic Game 8. Bookies listed the Giants as 5-3 favorites, feeling New York had all the momentum after shelling Wood the previous day. Boston fell behind 1-0 after six innings, but it could have been worse: in the top of the sixth, Boston's Harry Hooper robbed New York's Larry Doyle by diving into the temporary right-field bleachers to spear a potential home run. The Green Monster–less Fenway didn't have walls in the outfield back then, just ropes separating the fans from the field, and the Giants claimed that Hooper had already landed in the crowd of fans before he caught the ball. Whatever the case, Hooper disappeared for a good five seconds before emerging from the masses with the baseball, and the score stayed at 1-0.
The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh, and the two teams stayed deadlocked until the 10th, when the exhausted wood, called on for relief duty, allowed an RBI double to Fred Merkle, putting the Giants up 2-1.
But the Sox rallied in their final at-bat, and it was the other team that choked. New York left fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped the first out of the inning — a lazy fly ball by Clyde Engle — for a two-base error. Two batters later, New York catcher Chief Myers and first baseman Fred Merkle converged on a Tris Speaker pop-up in foul territory, looked at each other, and watched as it dropped between them. Foul ball. Given another life, Speaker then singled to right, scoring Engle and tying the game at 2-2. Third baseman Larry Gardner then knocked an RBI sacrifice fly for the game-winner and an implausible 3-2 win, Boston's third World Title.
POSTSCRIPT:As for the Hooper catch, most people don't know that the Wall wasn't erected until the 1930s. In other words, the Green Monster's never seen a championship team and might be possessed by something evil. to their credit, the Red Sox have discussed knocking the wall down and putting the rope back up, but they're concerned people would leave Avalon at 1:30 in the morning, cross Lansdowne Street, and pee in left field.